The Hard Things

I have one friend who shares “the hard things” on her Facebook page. She usually asks for prayers or guidance at the same time. I assume it’s just part of her outgoing and open personality. That makes 0.003% of my online friends. Most of my friends in real life are the same though, only sharing with a select few people, the difficulties they face.

We don’t talk about the hard things.

There are some things we can’t say. Knowing how much to share with others is like a game of Jenga or dominoes.. The smallest detail might be the one to unravel it all. We bottle them up, because if you let one thing out, the whole facade of who we are would crumble.

This all came to mind after chatting with an old co-worker about her baby, born just a few short weeks ago. She mentioned how her daughter was quite fussy, didn’t sleep well and really cried a lot. Her words took me right back to when my little was that age. I don’t remember all that much besides wishing I could sleep and wondering if other babies were like he was/is. I had a horrid time with day/night confusion and the fussiness that has still yet to fade away. Family and close friends all said he’ll “grow out of it,” but I have a feeling I could wait forever for that to happen. He’s just intense. He has been since the moment he was born. In the early weeks, it baffled me how someone so, so quiet during pregnancy could be so much once he was here.

I don’t really remember, because it’s all a blur now, but I don’t think I really talked about it. At least not in full detail. That was the first thing out of my co-workers mouth, as I commiserated with her. She said I always made the best of everything, that she never would have guessed I was struggling. I didn’t want to talk about it. There are several reasons, really, with the first that comes to mind being that talking doesn’t always help. If I mentioned his reflux or general fussiness, I heard a lot of suggestions I had already heard before, or advice to just wait it out because time apparently fixes everything. I’m not saying some of it wasn’t helpful, but I wish someone would have leveled with me, or listened to me. Those who let me complain like being a sleep-deprived, new mom was something they had never heard before, made making the effort to reach out worth it. They made me feel less unprepared, more capable of living with four to eight hours of sleep a week in those early weeks.

Being a new mom is hard regardless of your baby’s temperament, but for moms out there with “spirited” or intense babies, I feel your pain. It is a unique kind of distress, wondering what you’re doing wrong, why they won’t stop crying, what you’ve done to upset them this time… but the truth is, if they have been fed, have a clean diaper, aren’t too hot or too cold and are in a safe place, you’re doing everything you can.

It is unbelievably hard sometimes, and equally as worth it.

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Baby Giggles

There are few things sweeter than the sound of your little’s laugh. The bumble butt is definitely, 100% ticklish now. He would laugh when we “nom nomed” him and pretended to eat his belly or hands, but now you can just poke at his sides or rub his feet and he gets all squirmy and giggly. It is music to my ears! He also thinks his reflection is the best thing ever, which is so funny to see. Here’s a short (and a bit blurry) clip of him being held by his Grandma.

Our time in California is starting off great. He’s got so many people who love him that he enjoys being around, and even more that he has yet to meet. A few women at my dad’s work are offering to watch him and teach him Spanish and can’t wait to meet him at the next company picnic.

The blazing heat and temperatures over a hundred degrees are taking some adjusting too, but that’s life in the sun for you! I wish I had time to write more, but it’s all a bit crazy for now.

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Six Months

sixmonthsoldHey Baby Bee,

Happy half birthday!! You are such a cute little character; getting more and more interactive during your mini-photoshoots. You still aren’t sitting unsupported, but you are trying! You are just way too interested in standing, to bother trying to sit most of the time. My mommy friends say they won’t be surprised if you try walking before you crawl. Slooooow down, because I’m not ready for the mobile version of you just yet!

This past month has gone by in the blink of an eye. As much as I hate to say it, I feel like it was one giant loop of the same thing. You’ve been really fussy. I like to blame it on the teeth, or your frustration over not being able to communicate what you want, but the truth is I don’t know.. I spent entire days following your lead, trying to see what would make you happy, only to find out nothing would for very long. I spent entire days being the one to set the pace, and that was a joke. You are a stubborn little one! Definitely no napping, no going for a walk, and no it is not bedtime unless you are okay with it. No wondering who you got that from, either!

Amidst all the fuss and muss, it is fun seeing your personality come out. Things that made you smile last week bore you, and I’m always searching for the next big thing to make you laugh. Mommy singing to you is always a favorite. We sing “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” while changing your diaper and the infamous “want something that I want” just about any time I need to keep you from losing your cool. Watching you learn how to sit up on your own, even when you prefer standing. The sense of pride and wonder that washed over me when you were not only sitting on your own, but pushing on the keys of your baby piano. Something so small and insignificant, just one of the ways I have seen you learn and grow.

Half a year gone. Much older and wiser mothers than me always tell me not blink, because you’ll be all grown up before I know it. You’re already 17lb 3oz and 27.75 inches tall. Wearing 9-12 month clothing. Trying foods! You’ve had banana. Tasted watermelon and gnawed on the core of a pineapple. Tomorrow I’ll introduce avocado and shortly thereafter some peas. Seeing the funny faces you make it the most fun part.

Next month I’m guessing you’ll have mastered sitting unsupported. Talking a bit more. Maybe even crawling! We are going places bumble butt.

I love you to the moon and back, sweet little.

Love,

Mom

Attachment Parenting

The little has been asleep for about a half hour now. I can hear him dreaming in his pack ‘n play next to the bed. It has been a chaotic day. Nothing seemed to make him happy for very long. Every few minutes went like this… “Mom, I’m bored. Pick me up. Where’s the cat? Put me down. Feed me! Never mind, I’m full. Don’t ignore me! Find me a better toy.” >> Just guessing what he was thinking based on his actions. A bit of an exhausting day, to say the least.

And then I checked Facebook, as I’ve come accustomed to doing, while nursing him to sleep. My newsfeed was all cute baby pictures and random group posts until I stumbled across an article shared in my AP, attachment parenting, mom group. A former AP mom, not linked to our group, ranted about how that lifestyle ruined her life for almost a decade. She described how babywearing was literally throwing her back out, safe co-sleeping/co-rooming made it so she never slept or had time alone with her husband, and responding to her first child’s crying made it so that he never learned to self-soothe and refused to nap. The second half of the post detailed how crying it out, limited nursing and a more strict sleep schedule with their second child, worked like baby magic to create a much happier family unit. (I won’t link to the post because I would hate to have anyone scared away from the great intentions of this gentle parenting style due to the author’s bias.)

What annoyed me most about the author’s rant, was that she made it sound as if parenting was an all or nothing game. If I have learned anything in the past six months, it’s that parenting is not black or white. There are many, many parenting styles and techniques out there. Not everything that works for one baby or family will work for another. I will go as extreme as saying that not everything that works one day for us will work the next. She also completely missed the boat on what AP is all about.

Just thinking of the attachment parenting principles… The little was exclusively breastfed, up until this past week when he tried bananas for the first and second times. (Post on that soon!) Struggling with my supply, and not knowing the root cause, has given me an appreciation for why many moms resort to using formula. It is almost always a failure of the system, not of the individual. There are definitely moments when he cries and I don’t immediately tend to his needs; like when he’s strapped in his car seat and screaming his head off one red light from home. Or when his spirited nature (see first paragraph) is wearing on me. I didn’t “wear” Elliott until he was five or six weeks old. He felt so tiny and fragile before then, and the fear of accidentally suffocating him scared me. And then there are definitely days he wants nothing to do with a baby carrier, and that’s okay. I still consider us an AP family, because of the way in which we instinctively respond to his needs.

I guess all I’m meaning to say, is that this parenting style fits me. I’m not perfect at it, but parenting isn’t about perfection. It’s certainly not all black or white, and that’s coming from someone who admittedly struggles with seeing the world as such.

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At a Loss

*Disclaimer* Overly worried, first-time-mom post ahead..

The little man had his six month “well baby” visit earlier this week, in conjunction with the appointment for his lip and tongue ties. He had his weight and height logged in their system for the first time since his two month reflux appointment. I was surprised to hear that he had gone “off his curve” and was no longer in the 90th-something percentile for weight. At that time, I didn’t take it too seriously. I have weighed him on the same scale, in the same place every month since he was born, and he has always gained the appropriate amount to stay on track.

And then.. I started noticing his diapers were fitting looser around the legs. With cloth diapers, it’s easy to tell when they’re chunking up, because the snap settings have to be adjusted. I’ve now learned it’s just as easy to tell when they’re either leaning out, or losing weight, because the leg openings were starting to leak again. Sigh.

He isn’t taller, still hitting twenty-seven inches on the dot. But he has lost almost half a pound since his very unofficial half-month weigh in. Was up to 17lbs 8oz and is back down to seventeen even. In more clear terms, from his five month birthday until now, he has only gained three ounces.

He’s eating as much as always, and I haven’t noticed him being fussy or acting hungry after nursing. My lovely Breastfeeding Mamas support group has listened to me vent about this, and about his tongue/lip ties, and they say it’s normal. That it’s okay. They ask if he’s hitting milestones, bright eyed and alert and otherwise doing okay. He is. I just worry. I know I sound like such a first time mom here… but he’s my baby. I can’t help but wonder if the stress and chaos of having the sailor home have affected my milk supply. It was already borderline, just barely enough as it were.

Still waiting to hear from the network hospital – and much larger hospital at that – about our bumble butt’s pediatric ENT appointment. I just want everything to be okay, and even while writing this, am aware how lucky I am to have such a simple concern. Prayers uploaded for those struggling with far greater things.

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Tongue Tied

This post has been “a long time coming,” in a way..

Monday afternoon, our bumble butt has an appointment with a pediatric dentist to diagnose him with a tongue and lip tie. And then hopefully cut said lip and tongue ties. He has both. He has had both. When he was six weeks old, I took him to the ENT at our local naval hospital to have both evaluated, after breastfeeding began to hurt again. The doctor we saw would not even look at his tongue tie, and said it was not a problem because he could (barely) stick his tongue past his gum line. He snipped the lip tie with iris scissors, after telling me he didn’t think it was a problem and didn’t know if it would help. I think that probably does an adequate job explaining why I was unsatisfied with the results. Breastfeeding still hurts sometimes, and we are still dealing with poor transfer issues and low supply.

tongue tie
In case you are wondering, this is what my tongue tie looks like. It’s almost impossible to get a picture of the little’s mouth, but his is much thicker and “tighter” than mine.

I always thought the white band connecting my tongue to the lower gum line was normal. It’s not. My husband has a tongue tie too, and had his lip tie snipped when he was fifteen or so, in an effort to close the gap between his front two teeth. It didn’t.

The sailor and I considered just leaving the little’s ties alone. Dealing with the naval hospital is a pain in itself, and he is so close to starting solids that the demand for breastmilk is going to naturally begin declining anyway… Our minds were made up to just leave them alone, until the sailor stumbled across this post by Penny, of Penniless Parenting. It is a great article, summarizing the many problems with leaving these ties as they are. Tongue ties lead to high narrow palates, not enough room for adult teeth, need for palate expanders, smaller-than normal sinuses, mouth breathing.. All things I have have dealt with. Lip ties often lead to rotten teeth, speech difficulties, and a gap between the front two teeth. Getting them taken care of while his mouth is still forming is important, despite what we had thought. It’s about more than just his ability to breastfeed, although that will also benefit by having them snipped.

I could honestly, almost cry reading this article from The Leaky Boob about tongue and lip ties. It is overwhelming seeing all of our breastfeeding struggles right there, as part of a list of symptoms of something that can be fixed. To think I almost gave up breastfeeding so many times.. the supply drops and lazy, sleepy, every hour or two around the clock nursings… I am determined to find a solution that allows him to wean because he is ready, not because my milk dries up.

More than that, to live and learn. Know better, do better.

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